24 November 2023

Reckon you can change your world? Try this quick quiz - or head for the hills

| Sally Hopman
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Rural scene of dsrk clouds hanging over paddocks and brown hills

Surveys show people move to the country for a better life – or to get away from annoying people who keep asking them to fill in surveys. Photo: Sally Hopman.

What would we do without surveys? Those punchy little quizzical things that tell us why we did what we did and when – as if we didn’t already know the consequences of what we did when we did it.

There was a cracker of one issued this week, saying that people who left the city to have a break in the country came back (to the city) feeling better from their time (in the country).

I wonder if they get paid for doing that? Conducting the surveys, not going to the country. Wonder what costs more – conducting the survey or moving to the country? I reckon they’d break about even.

Surveys used to be big business. Apparently, journalists even based stories on them. Seriously.

You know the sort. People who live in south-western Sydney – Channel 7 News’ favourite go-to place for excellent house fire or car crash vision – are more likely to earn less money than people who live in the city’s eastern suburbs. No. Tell me it isn’t true.

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Or the other favourite – survey says people who don’t earn very much money didn’t have much schooling. Pull the other one.

If we still worked from a printing press, some big boofy bloke, right about now, would be yelling out, “Hold ‘Em”.

But it seems country life is now the prime fodder for surveys. Show someone a picture of something greenish as long as there are lambs in the picture showing their chops, a fire roaring about in its place and oil paintings of important yet cross-looking folk peering judgmentally down from their portraits on the wall, and you have bucolic bliss.

Then is probably not the time to mention snakes, what lies at the bottom of your water tank, and why you can never get internet connection.

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What you do is buy your place in the country – for a much cheaper price than in the city – and start complaining, but only after you’ve lived there a while.

A fortnight or so will do. That’s when you can start answering those survey questions – if you know you had to rely on rain actually falling into your tank to have, er, water, would you still have moved here? Or, do you think the sound of calves being weaned is better/worse than your former townhouse neighbours after a night out not on lemonade?

Moving out to the country is not for the faint-hearted. Or for those who like long showers, tall buildings within a single bound and neighbours. It is for people who like slimy animals with or without tails – preferably with – dirt and a good yarn or 15. The scenery comes for free.

It’s also, depending on how far you move out into the bush, the place where those survey filler-in-er-ers can’t find you.

Just saying – but don’t quote me in your survey.

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